Phillies Rotation Options among 2021’s Free Agents


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies faithful reacted negatively to a possible Anibal Sanchez signing, a national site forecasted he could receive an offer higher than Corey Kluber’s $11 million. Translation: too expensive! So, fans can relax because the Fightins can spend $6 million, and he probably won’t land here.                                         


Missing Components: 

A pitcher’s ability and/or cost may not be accurate to some Phillies fans who remember his career peak simultaneously with an age-related asking price. Ergo, a hurler won’t be a solid three-slot arm for $6 million on a one-season contract as some have implied.  


“We are like a judge confronted by a defendant who declines to answer, and we must determine the truth from the circumstantial evidence.” - Alfred Wegener

Pitching is expensive and the reason Kluber received $11 million from the New York Yankees hoping for a two behind Gerrit Cole. Now, Jon Lester has signed for $5 million with the Washington Nationals, and JA Happ inked an $8 million pact with the Minnesota Twins.   

Some general managers may be overpaying for a certain hurler, while other moundsmen are accepting a proposal from the first bidding organization. But while the Yankees didn’t want to miss an opportunity, the same could also be Lester’s reasoning.                                                  

It could turn out Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations, probably considered inking Sanchez for $6 million like his deal with Archie Bradley. However, Mato Sports Management representing Sanchez held a showcase instead trying for a comparable pact to Kluber’s.  

Continue reading "Phillies Rotation Options among 2021’s Free Agents" »

Phillies: 2021’s Reunion with Realmuto Draws Closer


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Based on the competition shrinking, the Philadelphia Phillies odds to re-sign JT Realmuto are the best they’ve been since 2019. Now, our rival from Queens has committed less for another superstar in ‘21 and thusly completed their big-ticket shopping.  


The 88 Percent:

For some Phillies faithful, there are two plans: theirs and none. And if immediacy (the norm) is one part, this isn’t the offseason to draw early conclusions due to guaranteed uncertainty. But some views even have a threatening tone: One fan posted either do something now, or you'll face 10 years in last place. Heartwarming, no?                              


“Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection.” - Arthur Schopenhauer

Among the usual sentiments, overall expectations haven’t changed from two years ago this month. Yes, it’s like no pandemic and financial shortfalls have occurred for the last 12 months. But things change every season as should your conclusions.       

With one month before spring training, MLB teams have spent about $1 billion less compared to last mid-January, and 88 percent of free agents haven’t signed: They are part of a large pool including Didi Gregorius. Ergo, there is no way such a large percentage of available talent is anything close to the norm of winters past.                                  

Front offices have two methods for this offseason: They ink specific players and/or wait for the unsigned group of stars remaining. Translation: Gregorius is probably one of those quality regulars, which is why so many general managers are taking the slower approach --not just the Phillies.    

Continue reading "Phillies: 2021’s Reunion with Realmuto Draws Closer" »

Phillies Plans for 2021’s Up-the-middle Alignment

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Time is the enemy of impatient Philadelphia Phillies fans because the free-agent market is only now percolating, but they will magnify each piece acquired by another franchise as a defeat. However, the game isn’t over in the fifth inning if you’re behind by a run or two.


Inside Out:

As the Phillies faithful know, today’s baseball usually doesn’t honor glove-only regulars. Now, even middle infielders can hit .280 with 20 home runs, but the player who only makes highlighted gems with the leather usually doesn’t play daily. Offense also counts.    


“I think the important point is the turning point in combining offense and defense in a reasonable way.” - Fred Ikle

It wasn’t so long ago the defense was up the middle, and the offense was on the corners. Basically, catchers, middle infielders and center fielders combined with pitching to keep runs off the scoreboard. And power and run production were on the shoulders of the first baseman, third sacker, the right fielder and left fielder.                              

In today’s game, up-the-middle defenders can bat in RBI slots, which are now the two and four holes. And even big men have provided excellent glovework in a demanding position like shortstop. So, only clubs with many offensive weapons can carry a leather-only regular.  

While many supporters of major league organizations immediately want a resolution for most free agents, the chasm between management and players is now narrowing. Basically, the gap is due to 2021’s monetary uncertainty, the pandemic and vaccinations.   

Continue reading "Phillies Plans for 2021’s Up-the-middle Alignment" »

Phillies: Fixing 2021’s Bullpen with Dispatch


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Beginning with what Philadelphia Phillies fans know: Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations, has added the first new piece to the 2-3 relievers still here. But those who want JT Realmuto, a starter and eight relievers are disappointment-bound. Bright spot: They will have a decent --not all new-- pen.


Striking-gold Potential: 

The Phillies bullpen was the major leagues worst last season: 30th! And, realistically, if most organizations had a normal financial year, replacing eight relievers wouldn’t happen even with a Hall of Fame executive. Basically, three new hurlers total will be management’s ceiling.             


“Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

In his first 18 days, Dombrowski hired a new general manager and has engineered his first trade: not even three weeks on the job. Impressive, no? If this guy has lost a step or two, he hides it well. 

Phillies Transaction:

  • Knowing Tampa Bay Rays’ roster problem.
  • Speed of the trade.
  • A three-team deal.
  • A young, controllable setup man.
  • Filling the Fightins’ southpaw need in the pen.
  • A flamethrower with movement on his pitches.  
  • Dombroski took 18 days from his hiring date to complete the move.

Quickly making a swap as a new exec is exemplary, plus Dombrowski had been away from the majors for roughly 15 months. And, even so, he understood Tampa Bay would be receiving more pieces than slots on their 40-man roster. Therefore, they had to release a player.   

Dombrowski needed a man who didn’t require a roster spot. And he engineered a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers to send first baseman Dillon Paulson to the Rays in exchange for left-hander Garrett Cleavinger. Ergo, the Phils received lefty Jose Alvarado with AL East success for Cleavinger with ⅔ MLB innings.       

In 2018, Alvarado threw his 98-mph sinker for 57.3 percent and three other pitches for 42.7 percent. Unfortunately, he battled injuries in 2019 (elbow inflammation) and 2020 (shoulder inflammation). But both health problems were only temporary and aren't a major risk for the red pinstripes.      

Continue reading "Phillies: Fixing 2021’s Bullpen with Dispatch" »

Phillies: 2021’s Free-Agent Thaw in January


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies wait for the last full month to re-sign or ink stars for next season’s roster, their main rival for JT Realmuto is also pursuing two other top free agents. And the execs not only know it, but they also expected his market to develop this way. No credit if successful?                                                                


Influential Competition:

For the Phillies faithful who believe Realmuto should either receive what he wants or is worth, the other side would see weakness and an opportunity for more than both. Unfortunately, no easy way exists when the stakes are high, but knowing your competition and the superstar you want to re-up makes it doable.                      


“Information is a negotiator's greatest weapon.” - Victor Kiam

Sam Fuld is the new general manager after serving as director of integrative baseball performance, an analytical position. Basically, his role was teaching data to hitters from a former player instead of someone who doesn’t know the difficulties involved: This is a recent MLB approach for a slight edge.    

Making the final decisions on all of Fuld’s moves will be Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations. Fuld’s hire was partly due to being in the dugout, and this current arrangement might continue for about a year. So, fans can relax because both will be working on roster construction.    

Franchises have five offseason methods for 2020-21. They are high bidders, bargain hunters, both approaches (the Phillies), early dealmakers and rebuilding organizations signing players they can flip at the trading deadline after adding their veteran presence.                

Continue reading "Phillies: 2021’s Free-Agent Thaw in January" »

Phillies: January’s Smoking Gun for 2021


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Revealing his approach in late October, president Andy MacPhail stated once --and only once-- the strategy for the ‘21 Philadelphia Phillies. But if you didn’t catch his quote, you missed the secret-disclosed plans before the amplified statements of financial losses from managing partner John Middleton.


Surprises Ahead:

The Phillies faithful are unhappy about being in the dark regarding the front office’s approach to 2021’s roster construction. Though, MacPhail did provide one sentence to three local scribes at season’s end. And, surprisingly, it jumped into my eyes when I read it. Well, you can’t expect him to repeat it a dozen times; can you?   


“The table of elements does not contain one of the most powerful elements that make up our world, and that is the element of surprise.” - Daniel Handler

According to Connor Byrne of MLBTR on October 30, MacPhail said, “I don’t expect any big moves in free agency until later in the process.” Basically, he stated what the red pinstripes will do, when they will do it, and why they will do it. Plus there will be more than one.          

If MacPhail didn’t expect any signings until later, he was aware of the strategy with two full months remaining until January because the plan had to account for spring training in mid-February. But keep in mind, he only provided one sentence about organizational thinking.  

The president referred to “big moves” in “free agency,” and his statement probably had JT Realmuto in mind at $25 million AAV (average annual value). Moreover, he could be thinking of a $13 million AAV starter and/or a $10 million AAV closer. But these costly pieces are traveling at a glacial pace into ‘21.     

Continue reading "Phillies: January’s Smoking Gun for 2021" »

Phillies: 2021’s Trade Rumors Addressed


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Opportunity is the vehicle carrying the passenger known as a rumor to the Philadelphia Phillies faithful. So, when managing partner John Middleton bemoaned the $145 million from last year’s losses, he opened the door for other franchises, agents and writers to speculate or inquire about desired pieces on the Fightins’ roster.


Middleton’s Comments:

The Phillies front office is a tight-lipped unit except for their typical offseason posturing: today’s financial shortcomings. Basically, they give the competition no reason for concern, while they stealthily negotiate for free agents with their reps, who rarely leak those contacts. Is it a private matter?    


“Rumors aren't interested in the unsensational story; rumors don't care what's true.” - John Irving

From the depths of despair, locals convinced themselves and others of a bleak winter of nothingness because the red pinstripes weren’t trying to win. But Middleton hired Dave Dombrowski, and now the Phils are going to rise to the heights of happiness by spending stupid money besides re-signing JT Realmuto.     

To paraphrase Middleton’s quote, it was about spending a little bit stupidly. And it became stupid money virtually overnight, but fans defined that as unlimited spending to plug every hole on the red pinstripes.    

As for the 2020-21 offseason, Middleton basically projected a slight payroll drop. However, restless natives concluded not pursuing Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, plus they expected unacceptable improvements elsewhere on the team.

Continue reading "Phillies: 2021’s Trade Rumors Addressed " »

Phillies vs. Mets for Realmuto in 2021

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the free-agent market heats up, the Philadelphia Phillies faithful have unknowingly been waiting since only Dec. 2 --the non-tender deadline-- and bemoaned some early signings by their division rivals. Yes, the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets inked hurlers above their predicted value.


Decisions versus Expectations:

Although the Phillies front office isn’t announcing a plan or signing a known commodity for its own sake, some locals vocalize the anticipated failure of managing partner John Middleton. Basically, broadcasting a strategy is a self-defeating approach, so management leaves fans in the dark. An annual dilemma, no? 


“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” - Wayne Dyer

Based on both managements’ needs, actions, tells and possibilities, the take here is within the parameters of basic front-office thinking and MLB rules governing their decisions. Obviously, writers have information limits because organizations keep some info under wraps.   

Many faithful supporters generally imply a new season even now is a scheduled 162 without any pandemic-influenced finances involved. After all, it was only $145 million for Middleton and -- some believe-- an unacceptable excuse.          

Continue reading "Phillies vs. Mets for Realmuto in 2021" »

Phillies: Unasked Questions Addressed for 2021


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies faithful, 2008 and 2011 are memories, cherished and distant; but they also affect the expectations for 2021 despite 2020’s financial losses due to the pandemic. Yes, it’s almost as if COVID-19 for some wasn’t a factor last summer or isn’t for next April. Hard to believe, Harry.  


Bleacher-type Conclusions:

After the Phillies had missed the playoffs again for the third consecutive season, some have offered reasons from the past to explain this disappointment. But others point to incompetence like the front office’s planning --or lack thereof to be specific. And if it’s one-size-fits-all, no MLB franchise is exempt.    


“I'm always asking questions -- not to find 'answers' but to see where the questions lead. Dead ends sometimes? That's fine. New directions? Interesting. Great insights? Overambitious. A glimpse here and there? Perfect.” - Lesley Hazleton

I received opinions factually portrayed from some who had read my piece on another site about JT Realmuto. However, I’m guessing they had never read my previous articles because their names weren’t familiar.     

Their statements and conclusions --unlike Jeopardy!-- never reached me in question form, and, thusly, this article’s title indicates answers to those assumptions. Basically, failure to them is not reaching the next level or not fixing August’s problem in the previous November and December: a lack of foresight?                

Continue reading "Phillies: Unasked Questions Addressed for 2021" »

Phillies Bullpen Reconstruction for 2021


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies faithful, missing the 2020 playoffs was squarely on the MLB-worst relief corps. Clearly, this is a must-fix shortcoming for the organization to end their postseason drought of nine seasons because the locals don’t want to see or hear a full 162 replay summed up in three words. And now pitching!     


Measured Relief:

Costwise and talentwise, replacing the entire pen is not a realistic goal because free agents JT Realmuto and Didi Gregorius could re-up to reprise their 2020 roles. And the Phillies also need a rotation piece due to a departure. So, the front office has those openings to plug, as they compete for solid relievers.


“What we need is more people who specialize in the impossible.” - Theodore Roethke

In ‘21, games played and attendance will depend on the pandemic in April especially after losses of $100-120 million per deep-pocketed franchise. And wealthy spenders are reluctant due to 2021’s financial uncertainty over the offseason and into March, so this will affect offers and trade-based decisions.     

Though some will question certain moves, be aware of the pitfalls. To illustrate, some hurlers dropped 2-5 mph off their fastball due to lacking the adrenaline they have with a rooting home crowd or jeering away spectators. And 2020’s stats could also be deceptive due to only 60 contests and interrupted winter routines.  

Despite fans’ beliefs, most bullpens have only 3-5 solid arms out of eight. The others are middle relievers who appear in low-stress situations: mop-up duty, long relief, extra innings, and frames before the sixth. By comparison, all stats are not equal.   

Continue reading "Phillies Bullpen Reconstruction for 2021" »